OAPs at a care home and their loved ones are rejoicing about a specially-built lodge with a protective screen which enables them to see each other despite newly tightened Covid restrictions.
Current government guidelines in Greater Manchester rule care home visits are limited only to ‘exceptional circumstances’ such as ‘end of life’.
However, the design of the lodge at Worthington Lake in Wigan, Greater Mancs., means residents and their family members can meet face to face without the risk of infection.
The key component of the building is an airtight pane of protective glass down the middle, which enables people on either side to see each other without breathing the same air.
This means the people inside do not need to wear PPE.
Families and residents enter through different doors into separate sections, both of which have been designed and furnished to give the impression of a living room.
The rooms are equipped with microphones and speakers to facilitate conversation as well as heating and electricity to make the environment as comfortable as possible.
Touching photos taken yesterday (Oct 15) show dementia-sufferer Joan Kershaw, 88, and her daughter Vivien Stevenson beaming at one and other from across the glass.
The pair would be unable to interact were it not for the building, erected by care company Millennium Care which runs Worthington Lake.
Manager Kim Jones, 57, said: “The lockdown was incredibly difficult for our residents and the mental health of some was really affected by the isolation from their families.
“The idea to build a room safe for visits came from our managing director, we discussed it and all agreed that it would be a brilliant thing to do.
“It’s worked out just as we had hoped, giving our residents that vital interaction with their loved ones which they desperately need.
“I can’t overstate the importance of them seeing their family, it means everything.”
Pictures show Joan, a retired farmer from Chorley, and Vivien enjoying a visit in the room yesterday.
Joan, who has six grandchildren and five great grandchildren, is one of 27 residents at Worthington Lake, which specialises in dementia care.
Vivien said: “I think the lodge is a fantastic idea which works really well.
“The important thing is that it means I can see my mum which, under present restrictions, I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”
She added: “It was a bit odd at first because of the screen but I got used to it in no time and so did my mum.
“There is no comparison to seeing her face to face.”
The 200sqft lodge, which is called the Rawsthorne Retreat, was custom built and cost approximately £100,000 to complete.
As well as heating, air conditioning, electricity, the Perspex divider and furnishings, the lodge is also complete with an ultra high-tech sanitising machine.
As soon as those inside the lodge leave a button is pressed and the machine emits a substance which sanitises the room from top to bottom, enabling the next group to enter.
Friends or family of residents who want to use the Rawsthrone Retreat must request a slot through an online booking system.
At the moment, due to restriction and demand, any one household can have one 30 minute per week.
Vivien said: “I hope other care companies see this and get the same idea.
“As the pandemic goes on they are going to have to think of ways to facilitate visits between residents and their families.
“This is a great way to do it.”